A survey during the 2012 election found that bus tours and visits to greasy spoons didn't do much to change voter opinions. Christopher Intagliata reports.
Donald Trump hasn't been running the most traditional campaign. And it's not just the unfiltered tweets. "He's neglecting campaigning full stop." Thomas Wood, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State. "He's had about half as many public events as his opponent."
Wood's own campaign experience was with the Romney/Ryan ticket back in 2012. Every night, the campaign surveyed thousands of voters… 64,000 over all… asking them how they felt about the politicians, after a local visit. That is, if the voters actually knew about the visit.
"Instead of seeing candidate X visiting somewhere in Pensacola they're now seeing candidate X visit somewhere in their local market. And it's not really filtering through to that many folks that the visit was there—you know one event sort of looks like the other. They all sort of blend into each other. It's hard to make it clear to the person who's just watching the evening news that this was a visit in your local marketplace."
In other words, visits didn't even register for most locals or those in adjacent markets. And the voters' opinions of the candidates went up just a measly couple percent after local visits—before fading back to baseline a few days later. So despite the huge investment of time and money, the local campaign stops were pretty worthless—at least from a numbers standpoint. The findings are in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. [Thomas Wood, What The Heck Are We Doing in Ottumwa, Anyway? Presidential Candidate Visits and Their Political Consequence]
As for this election season—any advice for the noncampaigning candidate? "I would provide advice that has nothing to do with his frequency of visits. I'd be providing advice as to how one comports oneself with the national press, try to earn some goodwill. I guess just being polite. I would say that Trump's sort of lethargic process of campaigning is probably the least of his worries." Better, he says, to just spend more time fundraising. To throw more cash at things that really work: like get-out-the-vote campaigns, and ads. Then again…Twitter's free.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]